Top rider bows out of Dakar Rally

Three-time motorbike champion Marc Coma of Spain says he will not ride in the Dakar Rally next month due to health reasons.

According to Spanish media reports, the Red Bull team leader said on Friday he had not recovered from a shoulder injury in time to be ready for the grueling race, set to begin on 5 January in Lima, Peru.

Marc Coma on Stage 8 of the 2012 Dakar Rally in Chile, riding his KTM the only way he knows how: flat out. Credit: REUTERS

Coma separated his shoulder in an accident during the Rally of Morocco in October.

He won the Dakar Rally in 2006, 2009, and 2011, and was runner-up for the second time in 2012. His rivalry with Cyril Despres of France has been one of the rally's highlights in recent years.

After its start in Peru, the Dakar Rally will pass through Argentina before finishing in Santiago, Chile, on 19 January. - Sapa-AP